Herbed Fougasse: A French Flatbread with Natural Style

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Carbs are not the enemy.

Vertical image of two flatbread loaves with white text in a green box.

It’s what I tell myself every single time I make bread, eat bread, and savor every big, fluffy mouthful of bread. Which obviously means I mutter the phrase more often than I would like to admit.

How could they be evil, when they look so beautiful in this rustic fougasse?

Vertical image of a leaf-shaped flatbread with herbs.

Fougasse is a stunning French flatbread that is similar to Italian focaccia. The crisp crust gives way to a spongy, slightly chewy crumb.

The unique design also adds to its charm. Fougasse is traditionally shaped to look like a rustic leaf, with freeform slits mimicking the veins and stem of the leaf.

Closeup vertical image of slashes in a baked flatbread on a baking sheet.

There are no rolling pins, no molds, no bread pans – you design and shape it right on the sheet pan. Simply embrace the natural beauty of whatever design you want to make!

It’s perfect served warm from the oven, torn into pieces with your hands, or eaten with oil and vinegar as an appetizer before a meal.

Vertical image of two flatbreads on a wooden cutting board.

Foodal’s version mixes fresh rosemary and thyme into the dough, which creates an intoxicating burst of herbal aromas every time you shape and cut it.

And the scent intensifies even more as you bake the bread.

Vertical image of fougasse with a bundle of rosemary.

I like to time the baking process perfectly if I know friends and family are coming over – as they arrive, and open the door to the house, they are immediately greeted by the most amazing smells from the yeast and the lightly toasted herbs of the freshly made fougasse.

Once you tear off a piece, still warm from the oven, bite into the crust and enjoy the soft interior, you’ll soon be whispering the same five words along with me:

Carbs are not the enemy…

Print
Horizontal closeup image of bread shaped like a leaf on a cutting board with salt and herbs.

Herbed Fougasse


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Total Time: -25712581.966667 minute
  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Baked Goods

Description

Fougasse is a beautiful French flatbread that is similar to Italian focaccia. Try Foodal’s version, mixed with fresh rosemary and thyme.


Ingredients

For the Preferment:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

For the Garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme 

Instructions

For the Preferment:

  1. Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour with a sturdy spoon and mix until it forms a shaggy dough. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and slightly elastic. It will be a little loose.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for 3-4 hours at room temperature, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

For the Bread:

  1. Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, whisk by hand to blend, and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the preferment and the olive oil and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the flour, rosemary, thyme, and salt. Mix on low speed until it comes together in a cohesive mass, about 2-3 minutes. It will look wet and sticky.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before any further kneading.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough is firm, elastic, and smooth, about 5-7 minutes. It will still be soft. Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough feels too sticky to work with.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around in the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press down on the dough to expel some of the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half, and transfer each half to two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Using your hands, lightly stretch and form the dough into a large leaf shape.
  7. Make the design, using a sharp knife to cut slits in the dough to resemble leaf veins: one slit down the center, then two or three slits at an angle on each side of the center. If using silicone mats, be careful to not cut through the material. Gently stretch out each slit to make decorative holes.
  8. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let the dough proof for 30-40 minutes.
  9. While the dough is proofing, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  10. Gently brush the surface of the proofed dough with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and chopped herbs on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly. Serve while still warm.

Keywords: fougasse, flatbread, bread, rosemary, thyme, yeast, all-purpose flour

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Make the Preferment

Horizontal image of preferment in a blue-lined bowl.

A preferment, also called a yeast starter, is a fermented mixture that helps give fermentation a head start before making the bread dough. It contributes leavening power and additional flavor.

Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the all-purpose flour with a sturdy spoon and mix until it forms a shaggy mixture. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and slightly elastic. It will be a little loose.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Step 2 – Mix and Rest the Dough

Horizontal image of a thick batter in a metal bowl.

Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, whisk by hand to blend, and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.

Fit the stand mixer with the hook attachment. Add the preferment and the olive oil and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the flour, rosemary, thyme, and salt. Mix on low speed until it comes together in a cohesive mass, about 2 to 3 minutes. It will look wet and sticky.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading.

Step 3 – Knead and Proof

Horizontal image of dough in a white bowl.

After it has rested, Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to mix until the it is firm, elastic, and smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough inside, and lightly roll it in the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Step 4 – Form

Horizontal image of a ball of dough on a floured baking sheet.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press down on the dough to expel some of the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half, and transfer each half to two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Horizontal image of a shaped dough on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Using your hands, lightly stretch and form the dough into a large leaf shape.

Step 5 – Cut Slits

Horizontal image of sliced dough on a baking sheet with a knife and a bowl of flour.

Make the design, using a sharp knife to cut slits in the dough to resemble leaf veins: one slit down the center, then two or three slits at an angle on each side of the center. If using silicone mats, be careful to not cut through the material. Gently stretch out each slit to make decorative holes.

Use your creativity to make your own unique designs!

Step 6 – Proof

Horizontal image of dough shaped and cut like a large leaf next to a knife, herbs, and a bowl of flour.

Cover both baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap, and let the dough proof for 30 to 40 minutes.

Step 7 – Garnish

Horizontal image of dough with slashes in it covered in chopped herbs.

Gently brush the surface of the proofed dough with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and chopped herbs on top.

Step 8 – Bake

Horizontal image of baked flatbread on a baking sheet with paper underneath.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly. Serve while still warm.

A Leaf Like No Other

This bread is a natural beauty.

Horizontal closeup image of bread shaped like a leaf on a cutting board with salt and herbs.

With its freeform design, the leaf-like fougasse is a unique showpiece, and an entertaining start to a meal.

It is meant to be served with the same effortless approach used to shape it. Just place it on a big tray, no bread knife required, and encourage everyone to tear off pieces with their hands.

It’s fun, inviting, and undeniably delicious.

With this recipe, I’m sure I can convince you that carbs are an ally, not an enemy. Remember that yeast in bread, when consumed in moderation, can actually be good for the gut!

Vertical image of bread shaped like leaves on a wooden board lined with a white towel.

I want to invite all of your to try and rate this recipe, and I hope you enjoy it! If you want to bake more bread at home, we have so many great recipes, and many that are gluten free as well, like our sorghum bread.

What do you think of the unique design of this fougasse? Are you excited to try your own cool shapes when you make it? Let us know what you think by writing to us in the comment section below.

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 14, 2009. Last updated: November 4, 2018 at 23:07 pm. Recipe adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking, available on Amazon.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best grub, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Fougasse is a beautiful French flatbread that is similar to Italian focaccia. Shaped and designed to look like a large rustic leaf, it's perfect served warm from the oven, torn into pieces, and eaten with oil and vinegar. Try Foodal's version, mixed with fresh rosemary and thyme. #fougasse #bread #herbs #foodal

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